ELKO — Tehachapi Hornn stared straight ahead at the gambler across the table from him.
In the blink of an eye he drew his gun and fired two shots, two direct hits to the chest at point blank range. The gambler didn’t move an inch; Hornn walked away smiling.
It was one of several scenes set up Thursday during the Fort Halleck Days Single Action Shooting Society event.
That morning 37 gunslingers registered for the three-day Fort Halleck Volunteers event that continues today and Saturday with a shooting competition.
In its second year, the annual event showed modest gains — 31 registered last year — and has attracted people from across the region.
Hornn, known outside of S.A.S.S. circles as Ronn Kaufmann, has been involved in shooting events since 2003 when he saw a brochure about the shooting society.
He went to an event “and it snowballed from there. There’s just nothing better.”
Gene Schain of Elko was introduced to the sport Thursday. He heard about the event from Jeff Williams, who helped start the local club with Doug Thomsen.
“It’s pretty neat. I’ve always liked weapons,” Schain said. It could be an expensive sport to start, but Schain said this event likely won’t be his last.
“It brings back the old mystique of the Old West,” he said.
The event challenges shooters to hit targets in a predetermined pattern. They are judged based on speed and accuracy.
Props are used, so shooters take aim at cutouts of people — like the gambler — buffalo and other targets.
Safety is a big focus of the sport, with stringent requirements for loading weapons and making sure there are no rounds left at the end of each shoot.
Nevada Fingers, a Spring Creek resident whose real name is Bruce Reichenbacht, has participated in S.A.S.S. events since 1997, when he was a Las Vegas resident.
He learned about the organization at a gun show and has been active since.
“I always wanted to be a cowboy,” he joked, saying he always stood out in Las Vegas because he’d wear a cowboy hat and boots, though not the style he was wearing Thursday.
Participants, who all choose names, are required to adhere to a strict dress code, and some dress in authentic period costumes.
In addition to prizes awarded for shooting acumen, there are prizes for best dressed.
The public can watch the action today and Saturday at the shooting range, located on property owned by the 71 Ranch. The range is located off of Lower Lamoille Road. Signs direct travelers on how to reach the range.
The main matches are 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. today followed by a pot luck dinner at 6:30 p.m.
The main match continues 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, with costume judging 6:30-7 p.m. at the 71 Ranch, followed by a banquet and awards ceremony at 7 p.m.
For information, visit fthalleck.com.